By Isah Asesa
Breaking2 was a project by Nike to break the two-hour barrier for the marathon. Nike announced the project in November 2016 and organized a team of three elite runners who trained for a private race.
The event was held on the Formula One Autodromo Nazionale Monza race track in Italy on May 6, 2017.
Kipchoge came 25 seconds short of breaking the two-hour mark on an auto racing track.
His time was not considered a world record for several reasons. Other top athletes dropped into and out of the race and provided pacing for Kipchoge.
A car drove in front of him to block the wind. And he was delivered drinks by bicycle. None of these are allowed in traditional marathon races at which world records can be set. Kipchoge’s new attempt is expected to also use these methods, although no final decision has been made.
At the time, Kipchoge was the defending Olympic champion, having won the marathon at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, and Zersenay was the half marathon WR holder (58:23, set in 2010).
Nike also brought in 30 of the world’s best runners to serve as pacers for the race, including Andrew Bumbalough, Sam Chelanga, Chris Derrick, Bernard Lagat, and Lopez Lomong.
In the wake of the historic race, global sports kit company, Nike developed a new running shoe called the “Vapor Fly Elite” for the attempt.
The Monza automobile racetrack was chosen for a combination of its low altitude, calm weather conditions, and short lap length.
In addition to the pacemaker vehicle, runners acting as pacemakers were positioned to shield the key athletes in an attempt to reduce wind resistance.
The runners started off on pace, but Desisa fell off the pace about 16km in, and Tadese followed around 20km.
Kipchoge remained on pace through 25km (at 1:11:03) and was only one second off pace at 30km. Kipchoge finished the race in 2:00:25 and said he had given 100 percent effort.
Shortly after the race, Nike announced that they had partnered with National Geographic to produce a feature-length documentary, which was to be released at the end of the summer.
The documentary was published on National Geographic’s YouTube channel on September 21, 2017.
Kipchoge has been close to unbeatable at the marathon in recent years. He has won major marathons in Rotterdam and Chicago and has won four times in London and three times in Berlin.
He is also the reigning Olympic marathon champion and has silver and bronze medals in track from earlier Games.
The record attempt presumably means that Kipchoge will not race in a major fall marathon, such as New York or Chicago, which is largely flat and considered the fastest major marathon in the United States.
This time around, the race dubbed “INEOS 1:59 Challenge” will be funded by one of the richest men in England, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the founder of chemical manufacturing company INEOS.